Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My slice of heaven


Dubai bound

Beyond that onion-curry-masala-factory scented public transports during summer that you will complain about in Dubai (summer stretches 8 months long and reaches up to 49°C), there are so much in everyday life to love about this city: the cleanliness, the road discipline, the availability of a wide variety of foods etc. Of course, you still have to be watchful for any speeding vehicle that might surprisingly knock you over, which you should be anywhere in the world, but the lighter traffic, dependable Metro (Dubai’s driverless train), designated bus stops and reliable online and phone transactions just make everyday life more convenient in this part of the globe.

snatched somewhere

Ola Manila

The good portion of my early adulthood was generally spent in Manila until I decided to drag my 30-kilo luggage, fly 8 hours and change time zone 4 years ago. And Oh! I so love the Philippine’s busiest city: the anonymity in the university, the busy streets, movie houses, bars, malls, restaurants that can keep you occupied and awake all night. The chlorine-treated water flowing from the faucet, the honking of the rushing vehicles early in the morning and the availability of just any transportation which are unique in the Philippines, they wake my senses into the fast-paced-mode. While the darker side of it also warrants one his own tale of encounter with hold-upers, pick-pocketers and all kinds of easy-money scheming gangs, individuals even police officers, I still love the race and the rush in the country’s capital.

borrowed from: httpwww.panoramio.comphoto51474145

My slice of heaven

But I have my growing up years in the small town in Batangas, somewhere in the southwestern part of the Philippines. Up until spending Christmas holidays requires airplane tickets and management approval, it’s where I spent the holidays and most of my summer breaks. It will always be my home. And from childhood when I used to run around in the streets and during my very limited annual vacation spent, Calatagan will always be my slice of heaven. 

Things I love about small towns and some funny things, at least in my time

  • Before too many options, everything has just a name – It would be the Ate Linda if you need some finger nail pampering or ingrown toe nail relief. It’s first name basis and not some faceless and nameless Ates from the X salons.  Mamay Islaw for some dirty ice cream comfort, Carding for quick shoe and umbrella repair, Pitong or Danica if you want your hair cut or permed… so don’t ever wonder if the girls then looked the same.    

  •  It was in the 80s before the PSPs, easy access to internet and before kids were given liberty to name their pets, the adults have only 4 names for whatever breed: Whity, Blacky, Brownie and Spotty. And every cat in the house is called Muning. 

  • One destination – growing up, there was only one big grocery store in town and quite a few stall owners at the market you would patronize based on your relationship.  So if you say mom went to buy some stuff at ‘Judge’ your nosy neighbor would pick it up where exactly mom was and what time she would be back. 

  •  Everybody is connected, branches of family trees are intertwined. In the 80s, you would know by name and genealogy all the registered voters in the municipality and almost everybody in the Barangay was your relative you almost cannot identify how and you wouldn’t even ask why.

  • You’ve been to same school - they have Montessories now which I wouldn’t be able to differentiate, but back in my time, kids in town went to the same school and played in the same playground. Your mom was classmates with your friend’s dad or your sister was classmates with your playmate’s s cousin, etc… and chances are, you have the same set of teachers for Science, English and Arts.

  • No-fence walls to guard your treasures. It was so easy to crossover your neighbor’s Bermuda grass and easy for moms to gather their skirts, exchange recipes (if ever they do that for simple Pinakbet) and indulge in the latest gossip. 

  •  I’ve climbed roofs, fell from trees and ran on the streets before 6 (pm). So I have the regular childhood of having skinned my knees and got dirt under my fingernails.   While I was not that athletically competitive, I remember by name who my playmates were or better yet, those who never wanted me in their team.

  • I have my distinct Batangas accent if not that thick which I can swiftly discard to be better understood, but trust it is back along with vocabularies only us understand when I meet a kababayan, and we all have a good hearty laugh.

Some people label us ‘probinsyano or probinsyana’ with an air of mocking.  I wonder why? I didn’t see any difference how we explored life, how we chased dreams or how Science explained the evolution of a butterfly and in my small town I had bigger playground while riding somebody else’s bike, we also have  game and watch.  And even if there is any difference, I think I wouldn't mind. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Puppy Love – my great love stories

Getty Images Image

First love, first heartbreaks and the art of letting go, you learn it first from your pets.

Etymology         : Glamourized from the words ‘bad breath’ by my condescending cousins. Forgive them. We were young and they were cruel.
Breed                    : Askal

It was the 80s and I was in the place where summer classes were unheard of. And even if ballet lessons were offered, I wonder if my mom will enroll me. So when I received this pup that summer, it was a delight! It meant permanent playmate. First pet, first love. Barbie accompanied me day in day out even during the very limited time I was allowed to play in the streets. Suddenly I had one to be with me all the time. Only one thing pissing off the adults in the house… all our electric plugs were chewed off… not a single lamp shade was spared. All slippers were marked by her tiny teeth or just anything that she can chew. And the last straw was my grandfather discovering she loved sleeping in his cabinet, in between his clothes. Grandfather has no choice but to put her in chains. And one afternoon after school I found her lifeless with chains around her neck. That was my first heartbreak and I never recovered. 

Etymology         : Size fit for a royalty
Breed                    : TBA (to be asked)

A got sick and King never left A’s room until his recovery. Some kind of a love.

Funny-boned Whity
Etymology         : There were Top 4 ranking dog names in our town before the kids got creative. Whity, Blacky, Browny and Spot, you choose the closest colour, and that’s the name. 
Breed                    : Half-askal Half-unknown

My mom had him for 8 years and they share this love that words are not enough to tell the story. I would refer her as my Mom’s dog. I haven’t recovered from my own loss so there was a distance. He had glorious days though before old age and scabies, but I will remember him most for his anecdotes. One, he almost bit the ‘ding dong’ of our male boarder, which this teacher retorted: “I haven’t even used it yet and you’re chewing it off?” while holding his treasures running for escape. I didn’t remember him getting shots though. Whity would accompany my mom literally everywhere she goes even on Sunday mass that he already got identified with her. On his last years, he developed scabies and did not heal anymore, we advised mom to put him in chains to restrain him from following her in the church as he was already scaring the whole town. And put she did. Only that she chained him in a garden chair made of steel. The opening song has not yet started, but outside the people in our street were waken and scandalized by the sound of the steel chair outrageously dragged by a running dog on his way to the church – on an early Sunday morning. A distant relative from the other end of the block recognized Whity and dislodged the chair from him. The scene ended with my nephew carrying the chair on their way home with all of them laughing so hard they could pee. But that did not make mom love him less. 

 Grabbed from Google

Etymology         : Admirably powder white colour
Breed                    : Japanese Spitz

I would always say this: always relaxed and poised in any situation, there was only one time I saw A panicked – when Sugar got sick. After taking him to small vet clinics near his place she just didn’t get better that made A obviously worried. He eventually decided to take her into an upscale vet clinic that quickly diagnosed her with Pyometra, an infection of the uterus. It was quite a sum he spent saving the dog. Twice I visited her while she was confined to check on her condition. She didn’t recognize me of course, she’s A’s dog. But when A came to visit she turned around as quickly reaching for A’s hand touching the cage. Sensing A leaving, she would make this sound like she was crying telling A how hurt she feels… It was another sense of attachment that you will feel between the owner and the pet and your heart will swell. It was 30 days after, A was reversing the car, didn’t notice she was underneath and the next thing in front of him was Sugar in a pool of blood. The world dimmed.  

Tyra – Starbucks and Lactovital
Etymology         : While sipping coffee at Starbucks
Breed                    : Labrador

The wonder drug Lactobiotic Lactovital. Just when I thought I will never fall again along came this golden lab. It was mine and A’s decision to buy her. What a ‘flirt’ but you will love her nonetheless. She moves, chews and jumps tirelessly that when one day she stopped eating, I was alarmed. I took him to local vet who diagnosed her by looks, no tests at all, uhmm, he took her weight and her temperature, if those count. The next best decision was to take her into a reputable vet clinic in Manila after fever never left her at all. After series of tests she was diagnosed with Dog Parvovirus. She was in IV and confined for a week. Bills hiked up and I just prayed Mom won’t rise from her grave and slap me with senses.  She went home to A’s house with a bag of medicines and etc… she didn’t seem better though except for increased blood count and a new veterinary vocabulary for us. I was looking somewhere for Canines Health Insurance Company. Phew! A’s mom nursed her for a couple of days with meds to be taken every 3 hours and a special diet. Her heart sank seeing nothing improved after another few days. Tyra would just slouch and can’t even bring herself move more than an inch. I learned how to pray earnestly. A’s mom won’t give up though, not ready for the thought of seeing Tyra die in front of her. So she took the matter in her own hands and gave her Lactovital. Each dose or maybe the taste made her scream to her lungs but she continued giving her everyday! Miraculously, she slowly recovered! I was never a fan of supplements, but this story was an exemption and makes A’s mom a Supermom!  

Etymology         : Nowhere or the teleserye maybe
Breed                    : Askal

A love that has suddenly grown. When I took Tyra home Dugong had become suddenly territorial. While he lead the pack of askals in our barangay, he saw Tyra in the light of an enemy and competitor. He did not leave the house for 2 days guarding the kitchen door preventing the pup from getting inside. He would growl whenever Tyra gets close. As if very possessive, he will jump on me and put around his feet around my waist that no other dog can get near. For one, Dugong is quite protective. He would walk with us to the bus station at any hour and won’t walk back home until our own bus leaves. If we go home, he was the first to welcome us jumping on his feet with gladness. I was away from home when he left but it still broke my heart into pieces.